On Returning the Sahitya Akademi Award

I am tired of governments.

I am tired of this one, and the one across the border.

I am tired of borders.

 

I am tired of governments that bomb Gaza.

So my love from Palestine cannot speak her language in the streets of Jerusalem. For fear that she too, like her 21-year-old brother, will one day never again be seen.

 

I am tired of governments that bomb. Syria. Libya. Pakistan. Unity State. Iraq. Afghanistan. Who will remember your dead? Names have little place in numbers.

 

I am tired of governments that turn away people from their island shores. Who send asylum seeker ships to Papua New Guinea. Because they have no room. Their own geographical vastness is occupied by the spirits of the Aborigines they displaced and massacred.

 

I am tired of governments who once parcelled out the world, clawing at it with bare hands, and who now turn away people from the world they have plundered.

Do they not see the past is always here, and it will always haunt them?

I am tired of governments.

I am tired of governments that use fear of the immigrant to distract from their own sordid malicious dealings. To garner votes from their scared and huddling masses.

 

I am tired of the word immigrant. Because, if not that, what are we all? Moving to the tune of our own primitive migratory patterns. To patterns forged anew by war, drought, disease. I am tired of the word immigrant. Asylum seeker. Expatriate. Economic migrant. Foreigner. Outsider. Insider. Alien.

 

I am tired of governments that forced other governments to beg for debts to be forgotten. On their knees, at the edge of the sea, waiting to drown like rats.

I am tired of governments that forget that once their own debts were forgiven.

I am tired of governments who imagine austerity as a pure and viable option. I am tired of the word austerity. Because austerity seldom affects the ones who do its bidding.

 

I am tired of governments that pretend otherwise. That craft cleverly their image on social media. That mirror within a mirror within a mirror. Governments that look away from their people and into waiting cameras.

 

I am tired of governments that have chosen to forget their own history. Worse still, the ones who seek to rewrite history for their own. I am tired also of history. Of this battered weak-willed word that is always under the anvil.

 

I am tired of governments that meddle in ordinary lives. That firebomb cities. That mushroom cities to dust. That seek to fight “terror” beyond their borders but do not reconsider their own gun laws.

 

I am tired of governments that ban.

I am tired of governments that make compulsory.

 

I am tired of governments. Of this one. And the one across the border. I am tired of borders. I am tired of nations. Of passports. And visas. Of laws that decide who stays, and who must leave. Who can live there for work, but not for love.

 

I am tired of governments with their million prying eyes. Panoptic parents. Who gather our lives into their terrible arms, as we struggle within the folds of their polluted robes.

 

I am tired of governments that place nation before people.

That honour these fantastical fabrications.
I am tired of governments who place country, religion, caste, ethnicity above human lives.

I am tired also of people who vote for governments who place fantastical fabrications above human lives.

 

I am tired of all governments. The ones who condemn. The ones who don’t. The ones who choose to be silent. That do not intervene during riots. That instigate riots. Do you see how people now still tremble at their name?

 

I am tired of governments that, as newspapers say, “have a shocking disregard for civilian life”. That swell their armies in pride. That buy and sell arms. That set up check posts instead of libraries and schools.

 

I am tired of governments that deny the climate is changing. That birds are dying. And forests burning. That land is grabbed from farmers. That protect Monsanto. That privatise. Water. Railways. Souls. In the name of freedom. Of choice. When the only real choice is between buying and not buying.

 

I am tired of the word freedom. It means nothing.

It means everything.

 

I am tired of governments who permit their scholars, writers, artists to be killed. To be silenced. (But can you not hear them? In the dark, the poets are singing.)

 

I am tired of governments that kill.

 

I am tired of governments.

Of this one. This one. This one. This one. This one. And this one.

And the one before.

And the one after.

 

I am tired. Here. Take this.

I give you my words so I may take back my words.

Take this. You governments of the world.

Leave me to the trees that offer us life unconditionally.

 

Published in The Hindu Blink Magazine on 23rd October 2015 for Paperwallah

  • reply harpreet vohra ,

    Janice I just loved the angst and the unrest in verse. Yes we are just tired and we wait for the dogs to bark and the caravan to pass..

    • reply janicepariat ,

      Thank you Harpreet. It all feels relentless.

    • reply Chaand Malhotra ,

      Beautifully written Janice. The frustration against all Governments whether past ,present or future in all countries will ultimately finish our existence. I am sharing this on Facebook. Chaand ( your mom’s friend).

      • reply janicepariat ,

        Thank you Chaand

      • reply Surabhi ,

        Beautifully written. Not one cliché present. Really good!

        • reply Anand ,

          Very well analysed and expressed

          • reply Anand ,

            Very well analysed and expressed

            • reply mitzi drysdale ,

              this is like the thousands of words from my own heart and mouth crying out over fb, twitter, rallies, but which seem to go nowhere…
              I hope Janice’s piece goes somewhere where it will make a difference forever

              • reply Sharad ,

                UFFF…Super!!!

                • reply Urvashi ,

                  Thank you for this. I hate the feeling it left me with. But thank you.

                  • reply kyrsoibor ,

                    i am tired only to be rejuvenated and fight back against this or that institutions or ideology which has enslaved us…

                    • reply Amanbir ,

                      yo! siajuli??

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